A Matter of Age

It probably sounds incredibly stupid coming from someone who isn’t even thirty yet, but I have partially retired. I’ve become too old and ugly to keep working. At first sight, this will probably be laughable, until you think about what that means.

I already was old for a model. But that only makes things worse. I only had the luck of looking a bit young for my age despite a lifestyle that isn’t entirely healthy. The staying thin is the easy part really. You just need a healthy diet for that. Although I’ll confess that sometimes, after a very heavy meal, I did fast.

The problem however is age. And that’s what women are constantly judged by. It is logical that youth is idealized in some ways, but that’s not what’s happening here. What is happening is that women are no longer seen as interesting persons once they show even the faintest hint of a loss of youth. Imagine having a wrinkle. Imagine having a slight imperfection in the skin. Imagine having a grey hair (okay, I did have a few that got ruthlessly purged). Every day is another step closer to irrelevance.

Anywhere where appearance is important you can see this, not just in the fashion industry. The classical example of course is the movie industry. But, of course, all of those are just fringe affairs. There aren’t that many women involved there.

This fear of age however isn’t just something you see in these industries. Culture after all tends to be an expression of the society it’s from. And our society (and societies all over the world) basically see women primarily as objects, not as people. When an object becomes less aesthetically appealing, you will generally not want it in a prominent place anymore. Whereas for a person the appearance doesn’t really matter. A person has depth and personality, an object doesn’t.

But even then, it doesn’t hurt to retire from all this. Of course, there were things that I enjoyed. I can’t help it, although I suspect that at least some parts of it are social indoctrination. Women are taught to be vain, to enjoy receiving attention for their appearance. At the same time, we’re told that it is something awful.

Other things that could at least be enjoyed about being a model were that it pays relatively well, gives plenty of dating opportunities (which I naturally messed up as always), and then there is the most complicated thing. Status. On one hand, it’s nice to be seen as admirable, but on the other, it’s really unpleasant if you’re not admired for what you’re actually proud of.

I’ve never been able to feel proud for having a certain look and being able to pose and walk in certain ways. Sure, there is more to it than just being pretty, thin, and tall. But still, there wasn’t much that felt like real achievements such as solving a new protein structure or the like.

The objectification inherent in being a model always hurt, but it was far from the worst. I never particularly suffered from having to maintain my weight. Sure, sometimes I skipped a meal or the like, but I never had to resort to intentionally making myself feel sick of throwing shampoo over my food.

No, the absolute worst, and the thing that I’m truly ashamed of, is being part of a propaganda machine for patriarchy. It’s something I’ve struggled with almost since the moment I started, and especially since I actually built a bit of a career out of it. Now that I have a child to take care of it makes me feel even worse. From every side, the propaganda to aspire to a certain look and do everything to achieve that is there.

Sure, you can tell yourself that you’re just doing a job, and that if you weren’t doing it, someone else would and nothing would change. But that doesn’t matter. I like to think that it’s possible to be a morally decent person and that you can achieve much good by small things. Only, the fashion industry doesn’t give you that.

And it’s all so unfair and unreal. For instance, when I worked for a mainline brand, the clothes actually didn’t fit any of the models because the smallest sizes already were too large. So, pins and the like were used to get the right kind of fit. Others make a special version just for the models. It goes far beyond the whole photoshopping thing. Many of these brands don’t even make clothes that would fit me properly.

It’s all about a collective fantasy of women as objects that can be shaped into some sort of perfection that doesn’t even exist. We however are constantly indoctrinated to aspire towards that, and countless incredibly expensive products are on the market to help achieve that.

One of the largest markets is age. Just look at all the countless creams, drinks, and what have you. All of them to ensure that we keep looking young and fresh from the factory. Many of these products are a massive lie. Take for instance collagen supplements. I’ve even seen them in drinks (honestly, if you drink a protein it’s thoroughly broken down by the time it is absorbed by the body), but also as something to apply to the skin. Funnily enough, our skin is quite good at keeping out all sorts of things. That’s the whole purpose of the organ. So, those things also don’t achieve anything. The most you can do is to smoothen the top layer (which already is dead). It’s all nonsense.

But it’s sold, and we’re being forced to buy them by the great terror of growing older. Of becoming ‘ugly’ and ‘unattractive’. Personally, I might be a bit crazy, but I’ve always found that a face that’s not ‘perfect’ is much more appealing. I like seeing lines and wrinkles, I think that it’s beautiful when there are marks on the skin. When it’s part of a living, breathing woman. It gives character, it gives individuality. Ever little wrinkle shouts: “I’ve lived!“

And what is my face? What is the kind of face that women are told to aspire to? It’s nothing. It’s a mask, flat and even. It’s dead, it hasn’t lived and shouldn’t live. Why should we be afraid of living? Why should we be terrified of every sign of individuality?

It’s not bad or wrong to be imperfect. Quite the contrary, it’s beautiful. We, the ones who are held up as ideals, we’re not truly beautiful. We’re just dolls, we’re not allowed to live. And I’m so sorry for being part of this insane cult. I’m so sorry for having been part of the propaganda.

We shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed of becoming older. In fact, we should embrace it. We should embrace being human, we should embrace living life to the fullest. And we should try to let go of the endless indoctrination that tells us otherwise.

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Confessions of Shame

It has taken me a very long time to be ready to write this, but because this is my way to be anonymous and to express at least some of the things that trouble me, I decided to write this. It’s not a justification, there isn’t one. I’m very sorry if it comes across as chaotic. I just can’t properly structure my thoughts.

Throughout my life, I’ve known that I’m an awful person. As a young teenager, my first girlfriend, the only one I ever truly loved, I sometimes think, couldn’t take the pressure of growing up as a lesbian in deeply conservative surroundings and took her own life. I could never show anyone how I truly felt, I couldn’t ever let anyone see the letter that she wrote me before she did it.

Perhaps that’s why I can’t maintain relationships. Or things never got far enough for my many deep flaws to show themselves. Since then, I’ve had dozens of relationships and too many brief flings to keep count. Every single relationship I’ve ever been in failed. There were several reasons, but a few came up time and time again. First of all, I’m a workaholic, and secondly, well, I have quite a tendency to cheat. I know that it’s bad and I really hate it about myself. But somehow, I can’t keep myself under control. I’m a lustful person, and I just can’t resist it. Lust has always been one of my greatest drives, alongside my ambition. And it’s destroyed so much. I don’t know why this is, but sometimes, I think that it is because I’m seen as pretty. It’s just too easy to get what I want.

Some people think that women like me must have tremendous self-control. I always work, never linger in bed, never eat sweets or fatty food, and countless more such things. But the truth is much simpler. I don’t care for many such things. And every idiot knows that it’s very easy to restrain yourself from eating something you don’t even like. I can’t stand being idle and I hate it when I’m too tired to work.

When I found myself an adult, moving out into the city, having only ever tasted so many things through the internet. Perhaps that’s why I find it easy to share things anonymously. But anyways, here I was. A young student, poor and naïve. I however always detested being poor. As a child, I often stole what I wanted to get what was forbidden to me. Later on, I wasn’t that stupid anymore.

No, I instead used what I had been lucky enough to get. I’ve always been quite close to our society’s twisted standards of beauty, being tall, thin, and having the right kind of face and hair. I knew that I was pretty, so I began to work as a model. At first, it was only for smaller local things as well as going to trade fairs to basically be living decoration at stands, but it quickly grew into more. I started doing shows and campaigns and have been on the cover of major magazines.

I could have become rich through that. I had the opportunity to be the face of major campaigns by serious fashion brands, but I didn’t dare to. I was afraid of my family finding out and them permanently casting me out. It was a thought I couldn’t deal with. So, I kept my profile relatively low. So people who knew me wouldn’t find out. My face wasn’t in the windows of local shops, but I did do shows and plenty of photoshoots. I was in magazines, but my family wouldn’t ever even look at those.

I had a decent enough income and was quite rich for a student. But it wasn’t enough for me. That’s always been one of my greatest flaws. It’s never enough or good enough. I always want more, to be better. When I moved abroad for my master’s, I found that I could still live comfortably, but my eternal flaw rose again. I wanted more and tuition was a pain. It was as a student in the UK that it began. I was in the middle of a research project and was spending all of my time on it.

And that led to another relationship crashing. I felt bad for a little while, but then, I started wondering. Why did I keep doing this to myself? I knew that I couldn’t maintain relationships. I knew that no one ever really loved me. They only ever loved my body or the me I projected. I’m not a good person. I’m selfish, I’m greedy, I’m disloyal, and above all, I’m ruthlessly ambitious.

I knew that I could never have a relationship that worked out. I just wasn’t cut out for it. For a while, I returned to what I always did when I was single, going out all the time for plenty of one night stands. When I woke up in another strange woman’s bed, I got thinking. Why was I going through all of this effort? I knew they wanted to sleep with me. I could always get someone. But still, it was stressful to have to go to bars and the like. And worse to someone like me, it actually wasn’t cheap. There also was the awkwardness of waking up and having to explain that I wasn’t interested in a relationship at all.

So, I spoke to a woman I had met a few times. I knew that she ran an escort agency for women. And, well, I asked her what it would take. We discussed a few things, and in the end, I reached a decision.

Two weeks later. I went on a date with a woman I didn’t know. She paid me for it. It felt wrong to me. I was incredibly nervous. But to be honest, it was fun. She had never been with a woman before, she wanted to try, but was too frightened to just ask someone out. Somehow, I managed to justify what I was doing even though there was this little voice in the back of my head telling me that it was all wrong.

I knew that I was bad, it was wrong. But somehow, I managed to overcome the feeling. I liked the money. It wasn’t as much as I would make while modeling, but I got it for doing what I would have done normally, only without being paid for it. Added to that, modeling might give quite a bit of money for the time spent, but it always depended on how many jobs there were. And I just didn’t have the desire to make it as a model.

And besides, now they at least wanted more than just my body, they wanted my company. I told myself, what’s the different from getting gifts and getting my dinner paid and getting actual money? The gifts just were a bit larger, the restaurants a bit fancier. And now I wasn’t giving anyone any false hope.

I told myself so many things to make me believe that what I was doing was good. In a way, I loved the women I was sleeping with. I gave myself the feeling that I was helping them in at least some cases. I found myself with women I would never have met otherwise. And, to be honest, I liked the money and the sex.

But all the time, this doubt remained. Despite everything I told myself, I was a prostitute. In a way, it was better than being a model. I got a far greater proportion of the money that was being made (although, I still of course paid a little to the agency for taking care of quite a few things) and got to meet plenty of interesting women.

But there were dark sides. On several occasions, I was utterly terrified. I’ve had to use actual physical violence to protect myself from men. But not even that was the worst. No, that was the sheer shame. Everything I did was wrong, despite the little lies I could tell myself. I was only deceiving myself, I was treating myself as a commodity, as an object.

I might have said that I was helping women, but I wasn’t. I tried telling myself that it was just being plain regular old me. But it wasn’t. All I did was lie. Even more so than I had done before. But the very worst was a kind of alienation. Whenever I looked into the mirror, I no longer saw a person. I saw a tool. That was what my body was becoming to me. I had already had that feeling when I just worked as a model, but things only got worse and worse.

While I did this, there were other things I liked. I slept with some pretty powerful women. That’s always been something I’ve been drawn to. I just love success. I know that I could just go and write a tell-all memoir and get sued into oblivion while dragging down some pretty impressive careers. But that’s not what I want. In the end, we all were victims of the same problem. We were all put into this position because of patriarchy. Many of the women I was with couldn’t face the social consequences of being with a woman or they lacked the self-confidence for it. The whole idea of beauty standards had given many the idea that they were completely unloveable. But I didn’t do anything to really help them. I might have given the feeling that I cared, but in the end, they still had to pay for it. I only made things worse.

There sometimes was a kind of self-pity, I freely admit that. I’m far too selfish not to have that. But one thing that always killed that feeling was talking to women who were more traditional escorts. The kind that everyone thinks of when hearing the term. High-class and all that stuff that gets glorified. And I only saw a far deeper pain than I was experiencing.

At least I was with women. I wasn’t being hurt and humiliated. I met some sort of love. They never did. They were just pretty tools for the pleasure of men. I heard utterly awful stories. Of course, these women weren’t suffering like others were, who had been placed lower on the ladder that patriarchy has put up for us. But they still suffered. They felt horrible, they felt dehumanized.

And that helped me deny my own suffering. I told myself that I was different, that my life was different. It was, but still, I was losing touch with myself.  Or rather, I had never really been in touch with myself. I was damaged. Perhaps it’s my upbringing, perhaps it’s my need for secrecy, but it’s hurting.

Doing this gave me one thing that I had missed. It gave me the feeling that I could be loved, that I could be worth something. Of course, all I said and did was a complete lie, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was this feeling, this one little pinprick of light and hope. It was false, I’ve always known that, but I needed the illusion. Every single night, it was like a compliment. Someone wanted me. But the truth is, everyone only ever wants the mask, never the truth.

And I still need it. I’m still unloveable, and I’ve only made things worse by all of my mistakes. I’m a terrible person, I’m selfish, I’m lustful, I’m disloyal. My only virtues are that I’m hard-working, relatively intelligent and am rather good at finding out what those around me want without them having to tell me. That’s all of it. I often feel like I’m not really capable of caring for others anymore. That I’m dead inside, that all that’s left is an endless series of masks.

I love women. I love my sisters in every possible way, but at the same time, I’m flawed. I’m a coward. And everything I’ve done only makes it harder to ever let the truth come out. If that ever happens, all my hope for a career is gone because of my stupid selfishness and greed.

Yes, I’ve become moderately wealthy. If I didn’t care about work, I could do nothing for the rest of my life and live in comfort. But I can’t. I won’t. I need work. I want to be adored, I want to be admired. And for one time, I don’t want to be admired for how I look. I want to be admired for my mind. Only, it’s broken. I’ve broken it.

There have only been a few things that were able to keep me going. The first is my career. I know that I keep going on about it, but it is the heart of my life. Secondly, there has been my love for my fellow woman. Every time I could do something, it was like a tiny point of light. Whether it was in bed or as a volunteer. I believe in creating a better world through sisterhood, it’s the only way we have. All others are only delusions.

The final thing keeping me going has been my daughter. I know that it sounds silly because she’s only been in my life for less than a year, but it feels good. It feels like I can really mean something for her and the moment that the adoption was finally done will never leave me.

But it’s not enough. Nothing ever is. I keep fleeing the truth, I keep hiding myself in the arms of strangers. I don’t know how to escape myself, I don’t know how to turn my life around. All I know is that this way, I’m only making things worse. I will be quitting soon, I’m going to stop my modeling work anyways because I’m an old hag now, and I’m in the process of building up my own lab. It’s time to start life.

I however fear that I’ll never be able to really leave this behind. In some ways, I’ve been damaged. I fear that my capacity to love, to truly love, is even more gone than it was before. This feeling remains, the feeling that all that matters about me is my appearance and my little act. I don’t matter as a person and I never have. That’s what my heart is telling me and what’s eating me up.

It is the worst kind of damage ‘working’ as an escort does. Just like being a model, it reduces you to being just a body and perhaps a fake personality. Worst of all, it’s not really work. Work gives something, it provides meaning, while these things only give money. Not that I mind having money, I am quite a decadent person, but it’s not what’s most important.

Instead of giving meaning, it reduces meaning. It made me worse in every way. I wasn’t forced into anything or exploited like so many women are. I was lucky, I guess. Or it could just be the privilege following privilege that’s the story of my life. I’m what people want, tall, pretty, white, well-educated, higher class, and all those things. I’m what my dates liked to show off with, to spend time with.

I hesitate to call what I did prostitution. Not just because of the horrible meaning of that word, but also because I believe that it diminishes the horror that so many women have gone through. I’ve not been raped, I’ve not been abused. I’ve never had to endure the touch of someone I loathe. What I did, what I’ve been through, it’s nothing compared to that.

But, despite that, I hate myself. I find myself a loathsome person, someone who doesn’t care for anything but herself and her own greed. I’m quitting. That’s one of the freedoms that privilege gives me. I can just quit. I can close this chapter and leave it behind. There isn’t anyone to force me to stay. At the same time, I can’t ever leave it behind. I’ve met so many amazing women, I’ve heard so many stories, I’ve learned so much, at a price.

In my heart, I’m dead. Or close to it. I’ll quit being an escort, but that doesn’t change my fundamental issues. I’m sorry that this has become such a rambling piece, I just had to write this, although I don’t quite know why.

Gender confirmation

Gender confirmation surgery. I read this term today, and it made me curious. Just read it a couple of times. What kind of thing should be confirmed by surgery? If gender isn’t tied to the body, I don’t see any reason why it needs to be confirmed by surgery. Of course, I think that gender is just a mix of stereotypes that’s being enforced by social rules, mostly to the disadvantage of women, so then I really don’t see what needs to be confirmed.

A few moments later I understood it. Of course, it’s mutilating people to give them fake-genitals to make them believe that they’ve somehow transformed into someone of another sex. They don’t even want to use their own (old) invented terms for this anymore of course. That could lead someone to doubt. No, it’s just confirmation. There’s nothing to see here, except a whole lot of attention-whoring and mental health issues.

But that’s not the case. They’re just part of the person that needs to be confirmed. Of course, I see that it’s just a defense mechanism: “No, your criticism of this practice isn’t valid anymore, we now use another word entirely to describe something that we swear is totally different”.

It doesn’t work, of course. It’s just the kind of intellectual cowardice to expect from people who are afraid of having to defend their own twisted ideas. It’s meant to make things sound more serious, like things have to be confirmed, to help whoever is being confirmed. But why should gender be confirmed? Who needs that kind of thing?

It made me think. Would just getting my boobs enlarged also count as gender confirmation surgery? I mean, breasts are typically associated with female humans (I guess, you never know what these people think). I wanted to make a little argument about how transactivists would feel about breast enlargements being counted along with other such plastic surgeries, but I guess that they would say: “Sure! We should pay for it!”. They after all see women as sex-objects, which is what they seek to become.

No, it’s just another bit of lunacy that somehow has me worked up for a few moments. More moments wasted to the nonsense of men seeking to define what women are, to be free to oppress us at their leisure. They use a variety of terms, mostly ones meant to sound intelligent to convince us (and each other and themselves) that they’re saying something grounded in science.

In short, they’re using one of the traditional tactics of bullshit: Use long and confusing words to make it look like you’re intelligent. No one with half a mind falls for it, so I think that it’s mostly a tactic aimed at those who don’t really pay attention. Which is what the main strategy appears to be right now.

Feminist economics in private life

Some time ago, I wrote about economic systems and feminism. Unfortunately, I’ve been rather busy , so it’s been hard for me to find the time to write the second part that I had promised. Fortunately, there now is a little hole in Fashion Week season because I’m skipping New York this year.

There basically are two distinct subjects that are to be treated. The first is about our current economic system and what we can do within it to slowly get to a better world. Naturally, the second part concerns an ideal economic system. This however is a little more difficult to describe, if only because a lot depends on things like technology, so for now, I’ll stick with what can be done in our own lives.

For me, the core idea should be to try to help other women whenever we can. Of course, this runs into a few very simple obstacles. The first is self-interest. This self-interest is frequently put down as something non-ideal and pure egocentrism. In a way, that of course is true, but we have to keep in mind that we’re all people. I don’t know that many perfect people to be honest, and in most such cases, some less than perfect traits will probably have been hidden away somewhere.

This doesn’t mean that self-interest should be the guiding principle, I’m not an objectivist, but it also shouldn’t be denied or judged. It’s impossible to live a life without it after all. So, self-interest is a known factor, and in many ways, a limiting factor on what can be done for others. Of course, giving most earnings away to (good) charity might be applaudable, but it isn’t much of an option. It also isn’t to be expected of women that they will save on things like quality of life (to a certain extent, as always) and the like, just so they can do more to help their sisters. Only patriarchy demands the complete submission of our own desires and dreams to others.

So, both materially and mentally, the needs of the self have to be met. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do something for our sisters. Spare income (insofar it exists), can always be used, just like time (often even more limited). There however are constant choices to be made. When you for instance need someone to paint a house, you can choose which company you want to hire. When I was in that situation, I made a point of looking women. This allowed me to support women in a field where they tend to struggle. Of course, it was a little more work and it might have been a little bit more expensive, but it was the better thing to do.

The same goes with all kinds of services and the like where you can choose the individual or company you do business with. A good example is getting a taxi. When booking in advance, it often is possible to choose if you would prefer a female driver. I always make use of this, not only because of the aforementioned reasons, but also because of very simple selfishness. I don’t like to be alone in a vehicle (or anywhere really) with a man. They after all are a constant threat. But it also works with larger companies. Even when dealing with giants, you can look at how they treat women and how many women there are in them.

So, that’s one relatively easy thing to do. Of course, in more remote locations and smaller communities, it can be harder to do, but even there, there should always be possibilities. The same goes when hiring professionally. There are all kinds of discrimination laws, but there still are plenty of possibilities to help women. In science for instance, I know a few female group leaders who almost exclusively hire women. The argument again isn’t just that they want to help their sisters, but selfishness again plays a part. There is a lot of discrimination going on against women, so it actually is much easier to find good female candidates. Naturally, this applies in many other fields. Another advantage is that male employees tend to look down on female leaders, so you get more issues there. So, when hiring my first PhD student (under my current professor’s supervision), I naturally also chose for a young woman.

Those aren’t the only ways that one can help. Volunteering and financial support always are options, although those tend to run into far more limits in terms of what is bearable. But what can be truly important, more than anything else, is giving advice and support. Throughout our upbringing, we are taught to naturally step into second place, to sacrifice our own dreams. This makes many of us shy and insecure about our wishes, especially professionally. It might be more common in more conservative circles, but I’ve encountered it throughout all kinds of spectrums, there is no strong difference between left and right.

This support can be all kinds of things. One of the simplest is just giving an example that it’s possible. Once, when I was speaking at a school, a girl remarked that I seemed so nice and pretty for a woman in the sciences. This alone can help, because there are lots of negative stereotypes about women doing things we aren’t supposed to be doing by patriarchy. This isn’t to say that everyone should be pretty and nice, not even close to that (I for instance am not nice at all, I however can pretend. And beauty is determined by society. I keep seeing an overly skinny doll in the mirror), but it does show how even a single example can help overcome those stereotypes. The same goes with all sorts of roles, meaning that it always is good to be visible.

But there also are other things that take more effort, such as sitting down and talking to someone. There is a huge lack of information for girls, and there are lots of ways in which knowledge is kept away from them. This concerns not just career paths, but also that there are other ways of life than becoming a slave in marriage. Frequently, all that’s needed is some information from someone seeming at least a little trustworthy. My own perspective of course comes from rather strictly orthodox Calvinist groups, but there you encounter lots of holes in knowledge. Even when they study, lots of little things that are necessary just aren’t learned. Things like how to dress and behave at interviews, how to act in public, and many others.

In general, the most important thing to do is to be true to yourself. To look where you can help without being too much of a burden on your own life, and to always try to put your sisters first.

Male Entitlement

Wherever you go, you are judged and seen as little more as an object. As long as you’re a woman of course. A good example of this can be seen in public swimming pools and the like. Because I live in an apartment in the heart of a major city, I don’t have a private pool (should I ever feel like living in a quieter area, I’ll make sure to have one with a decent length).

I already knew from previous experience that there would be a lot of looking and ‘accidentally’ bumping into me and unwanted comments, so I tended to avoid swimming pools. But, now that I have a daughter, I feel obliged to teach her how to swim despite some unpleasant experiences with water. And, given my lack of a public pool and a lack of a desire to ask someone who has one (and pride), it had to be done in a public one.

Naturally, I made sure to get a swimsuit (the kind that swimmers wear), I never really liked bikinis because so many of them aren’t made to actually swim in. And, of course, I was basically trying to hide myself from peering eyes. At the same time, I knew that I would look strange and draw attention. But then again, I almost always do that. But still, I could feel the looks. But that’s just looks. The problem was that men kept bothering me as I tried to teach someone to swim (awful teacher, really, I needed my full attention). Naturally, I ignored them, which led to anger, and quite a few unpleasant comments directed towards me. Fortunately, we were in a shallow part, so it was harder for them to attempt to touch me.

This made me think once again about how men claim possession of our bodies. Wherever we are, we are there for their pleasure. They are utterly incapable of seeing a woman as an individual. It’s so easy to notice when you walk somewhere, you will see their eyes going all over your body, but never once to your face. Perhaps as an afterthought, but that already is rare. And when we don’t do what they want, they get angry. They call us all sorts of things to shame us into giving in to them.

It’s not that I hate attention. I’ve had photos of me plastered all over the country and was on the covers of magazines and all that. I’m used to it. But I want the attention to be on my terms, and to not be bothersome. I don’t like it when men stare at me and try to talk to me even when I clearly wear headphones (I have quite large ones for if I have to take public transport, so they’re easily visible). I hate it when they try to touch me.

But as soon as that’s even vaguely alluded to, they become angry. Then I’m a stuck up bitch, an icy monster who just doesn’t care for them. And that is the heart of male entitlement. They honestly believe that fundamentally, all women should care for them. They should be there for them unconditionally. Except, they allow for one condition. A woman can already belong to another man. They see us as possessions, and as long as there isn’t a clear owner, free to be taken. And of course, they can always look.

Those are things that should be clear to anyone who has lived in our patriarchal world for even a few moments, but that doesn’t offer any kind of justification. Fundamentally, the burqa and staring of men are exactly the same thing, attempts to control women. To reduce us to less than human. They take away from the face, from the person, and reduce a woman to just her body, to an object for male desires.

The shared foundations of economic systems

Recently, I started thinking more about economic systems and decided to put my thinking about this complicated topic into words.

The economic organisation of a society is one of its most fundamental traits, and frequently, the differences concerning it are made out to be the most defining differences between societies. Here, I want to argue that all the systems that we can observe and could observe in written history were fundamentally patriarchal economic systems, making all of them more similar than often assumed. I will start by giving brief descriptions of these economic systems (mind you, I’m not an economist, so if I make mistakes, please, point them out). After describing them, I will give an overview of their similarities and will argue why they all are based on patriarchy.

An economic system essentially is how a society divides its resources, ranging from capital, natural resources, and the environment to time and labour. As soon as there are multiple people somewhere, there will be an economic system, because things have to be shared and divided somehow. That is, as long as there is scarcity. There is a great hope for the future that there will no longer be scarcity, but that’s something I will discuss at a later date.

The economic system we’re all most familiar with is capitalism. In capitalism, individuals own the capital, or the means of production. This can range from intellectual property all the way to heavy industrial equipment and everything in between. These individuals are the capitalists (although the term has gotten a different meaning as well, referring to those who are in favour of this system). In a capitalist system, the capitalist then hires labour, through the labour market. The capitalist pays wages, and in return for that, the worker delivers labour. This naturally creates a power relationship between capitalist and worker, one that is fundamentally based on the market. When there is scarcity of a certain kind of worker, their position becomes stronger. When there is a surplus, their position weakens.

One of the foremost goals of any person is to maximise their own benefits. So, naturally, a capitalist will want to pay as little as possible for as much work as possible. Workers are the opposite, they want to be paid as much as possible for as little work as possible (unless they’re a crazy workaholic like me of course). This frequently leads to clashes of interests. Furthermore, the power that employers have, especially over workers that are more available, means that abuse is frequent, along with all kinds of exploitation.

Exploitation however isn’t a necessity. First of all, because people are people, they’re not machines. They aren’t all alike. An employer can care for her employees, not seeing them as just cogs in a machine. Furthermore, there are workers in a position where they can easily switch to another employer, so they can make demands and are secure in their position. The however mostly concerns well-educated people and isn’t the case with less-skilled workers. But in general, there is a power dynamic between employers and employees.

The most frequently posed alternative is communism. In communism, the capital isn’t owned privately, but instead falls under collective control. Effectively, this means that it falls under state control. Another option is giving it to the workers, but I will discuss that separately. When capital is owned by the state, you no longer have the individual ownership with its advantages and disadvantages. The state then basically assigns people to work in a certain place. Idealists tend to want to do this without involving money, but that frequently is very difficult. Workers still need work in order to live, and the owner of the capital, in this case, the state, still needs workers to do the actual work.

Here, exploitation no longer is done by a private individual, but instead by the state and by the management it places. People are made to work, because, if they’re not, why would they do anything at all? Furthermore, the managers, as representatives of the owners, do have a power dynamic with the workers below them. Furthermore, you have an accumulation of power toward a certain group, and very little in the way of means to prevent that.

And then there is collective ownership, where the workers, together, own the capital. This generally is below the state level, and often means collective ownership of a farm, a factory, or what have you. This often is seen as a way to avoid the issues that a state-based communist system faces as far as planning and control are concerned. It indeed avoids some of them, but many issues remain. One of these is that there still has to be a mechanism for exchange between the different collectives, which requires either an overall level of control, by the state, or there will have to be a free market, as in a capitalist system, just with the workers essentially being shareholders.

that the workers are faced with a difficult situation where they essentially dilute their own wealth if they bring more people into the operation. It seems likely that they would rather not do that, or at the very least, demand significant concessions from those who join in. This can often be observed in partnerships, as for instance is common in medical practices and groups of medical specialists in many countries. New members often have to buy themselves into it, which can be very expensive indeed. A frequent alternative is that new members first have to work as a salaried worker for a given length of time, basically, paying with their labour in return for shares that presumably can’t be sold. If this isn’t done, it discourages investments and expansion, because that will often mean that there will be more people to share with, and the existing workers basically have to pay their own benefits (in whichever from they come) to do so, for the benefit of others. And if investments are made, they will generally be more aimed towards increasing productivity over employing new people.

Collectively-owned ventures also frequently need management. If only a few people found something collectively, this often isn’t the case. But let’s take a modern factory. You have hundreds or thousands of people working there. There is no way that all decisions and coordination can be made in a directly democratic fashion. So, officers have to be elected, and these will have a power dynamic with the other workers. Of course, they are answerable to the collective, but as we can see with elected officials in many positions, that doesn’t mean that they become paragons and perfect executors of the collective will. That is, if the collective isn’t exploitative already.

What has been discussed here of course is by no means an exhaustive list. There are countless variations on these systems and a multitude of others as well. But I’m writing a blog post, not a massive series of books. Furthermore, the issues with many historic systems such as feudalism are well-known (I suppose).

All of these systems have several things in common, but the one I want to focus on is the combination of power and exploitation. All of these systems include aspects of that. Of course, the extent and exact nature varies, but the fundamentals are the same. That is because the fundamentals of the society aren’t changed with different such systems. The great mistake made by many on the left is that they tend to blame all of society’s woes on the way the economy is organised. But they look beyond the far deeper issues behind why the economy is organised like it is, and why it can’t really be changed. Not without a true revolution in thinking.

This is because the foundation of our society, of virtually all societies in our present world, is oppression. This is not the oppression of workers by their bosses, but it is much more intimate. It is in almost every home. It’s the oppression of women. Men seek to suborn us, with their most fundamental argument being the difference in physical strength, which is the most fundamental kind of power. “You do this, or I hurt you, and I’m better at hurting you than you are at hurting me”. They like this, of course they do. Who wouldn’t like being the master over other human beings, to have them care for you and provide all sorts of services? They certainly like it, even if they often don’t even notice it, that’s how common and fundamental it is to our society.

This way of thinking, based on subordinating others, is in turn taken out of the house, into the economy. Furthermore, because men want to control women, they also need to control her resources. This means that it’s vital to have an economic system that is based on inequality. Even the communist approaches still contain this fundamental issue.

In the end, the most important realisation is that the economic and social systems are closely interlinked, and one cannot be changed without also changing the other. Because our world is patriarchal, all economic systems in it also are deeply patriarchal, even if they express it in slightly different ways.

In a later post, I will describe what a feminist economic system would be like, and how we could create one.

 

A personal update

First of all, I want to say that I am really sorry for my recent lack of posts. One reason for this was that I have been preoccupied with getting a paper out (and succeeded in getting it accepted by a decent journal). The other reason is a much more personal one.

For some time now, I have been doing occasional volunteer work with refugees, with a focus on girls and women, and especially helping them with education which is the single most important thing to find freedom and a better life. While doing this, I met a girl (she asked me to call her Cleïs in any posts mentioning her). She was struggling with her blossoming feelings, and tried discussing them with her mother. As you can imagine, a girl trying to tell her parents that she’s attracted go girls doesn’t always go well. Suffice to say, there was a massive row, and because I for some reason seemed like an open-minded person to her, she asked me for help.

Naturally, I got in touch with social workers and all that, but I also talked to her parents. It took a fair bit of negotiation, but basically, as of today, I am the proud mother of a brilliant foster daughter, and as soon as the other arrangements have been made, I will officially adopt her. As you can imagine, this completely throws my life into even more chaos than it already was, and for the first time, I have actual responsibilities.

It’s just a short announcement, I know, but I hope to be a good mother for her, to give her the best possible future, and hopefully to give her a happy childhood after all the things she’s already been through. I also really hope that I can shield her from any issues coming from us being of different heritage (me being a rather pale Northern European and her having a more Middle-Eastern appearance). Starting next year, she will be attending a private school that, from what I could see, is almost completely homogeneous in that regard, so that has me a little worried.

Another big worry that I have is what it will be like for her to grow up, as a lesbian, in our current situation where lesbians are under attack from all sides. Of course, I will be doing my utmost to help and guide her, but still, things are really different now.

Now I just have to figure out something I can tell my family without getting into too much trouble with them. And of course, how I am ever going to not mess everything up completely.